Churchill Fellowship: Language, Literacy and Learning for the 21st Century

Department of Education Senior Speech and Language Pathologist, Danielle Le Rossignol, has returned from her Churchill Fellowship trip to the United States and the UK brimming with excitement about what she has learnt.

Last year, Danielle received the Gallaugher Bequest Churchill Fellowship to study programs that will benefit children and adolescents with specific language impairment (SLI) and dyslexia.

She travelled to the University of Iowa, where she interacted with its Child Language Research Center to investigate neurological and genetic research in SLI and long term outcomes.

“I was also able to observe the University’s Word Learning Lab and its emerging research into the role of sleep in word learning for children and adults, both with and without language learning difficulties,” Danielle said.

“I attended the International Dyslexia Association conference in Chicago, a highlight of which was the emphasis on recent advances in our understanding of brain functioning in relation to reading development and dyslexia.

“While in the US, I also worked with the Children’s Learning Research Collaborative at The Ohio State University to explore current research into reading comprehension development, language and literacy curricula for Kindergarten students in rural and remote settings and book-based reading programs for ‘at-risk’ students”.

“At Tufts University I was trained in RAVE-O, an evidence-based intervention program for students with dyslexia and investigated a research project into the relationship between genes, reading and dyslexia at the University’s Center for Reading and Language Research.”

In the UK, Danielle learnt about a new pilot project, ‘Talk of the Town’, which is looking at a community-wide approach to supporting the communication needs of children from birth to 19 years.
“I met with the UK’s Youth Justice Board and The Communication Trust to explore ‘Sentence Trouble’, an intervention program delivered by speech pathologists to support juvenile justice workers to interact effectively with juvenile offenders who have communication and literacy difficulties,” Danielle said.

“I also visited the Language Development and Disorders Research Group at the University of Manchester, where I learnt about developmental issues for students and young adults with SLI, social and emotional functioning for students with persistent SLI and new media and computer use among students with SLI.

“I’m very excited that one of the University of Manchester researchers I worked with, Professor Gina Conti-Ramsden, is coming to Tasmania this month to address speech and language pathologists and school psychologists at a conference on SLI in Launceston.”

Danielle is currently focussing on disseminating findings from her Fellowship with staff from Learning Services (North) and other Department of Education employees.

“I will conduct a series of workshops and invited presentations with speech and language pathologists, teachers, caregivers and support staff such as social workers, police and youth justice workers to discuss current research into the causes and outcomes of SLI in children, as well as key intervention principles,” Danielle said.

“I also plan to develop clinical guidelines to support students with these learning difficulties.”
Danielle recently presented a paper on SLI and social media use at the Department of Education School Social Work Conference.  She will also present two papers on SLI and language curricula at the 2012 National Speech Pathology Australia Conference later this year.

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